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Canadian Adam Hadwin watches his tee shot on the ninth hole during first round play at the 2012 Canadian Open at the Hamilton Golf and County Club in Ancaster, Ont., on Thursday, July 26, 2012. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Canadian Adam Hadwin watches his tee shot on the ninth hole during first round play at the 2012 Canadian Open at the Hamilton Golf and County Club in Ancaster, Ont., on Thursday, July 26, 2012. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Hadwin leads Canadian contingent Add to ...

ANCASTER, ONT. - There is something about the Canadian Open that does something to Adam Hadwin.

It gives him a bit of a swagger. Gives him the feeling that when he putts, he knows that ball is going to drop into the cup. No question.

He doesn’t know what it is, but he’d like to bottle it and take it with him when he returns to play on the Web.com Tour. He’s missed four of the past five cuts this year.

But for now, he’ll take it.

On Thursday, the 24-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., shot a four-under-par 66 in the first round, leaving him in a tie for 12th – and the top Canadian.

Although he does not hold a PGA Tour card, Hadwin has swashbuckled his way through the past two Canadian Opens as well.

Last year, he finished in a tie for fourth in Vancouver, earning $228,800. In 2010, in his first appearance in a PGA Tour event, he shot 68 and 66 the first two days, but finished in a tie for 37th.

“It’s a bit of cockiness, to be honest, and it’s been missing for a while,” Hadwin said Thursday.

For example: He made a gutsy putt on the 16th hole. “I haven’t walked-in a putt like that for a while,” he said, meaning he was so sure, he started walking to the hole to remove the ball from the hole when it still had three feet to run.

“That’s just how good I feel over the golf ball right now, over the putter. We pick a line and we hit it and I know it’s going in.”

Hadwin didn’t immediately pick up his Canadian Open swagger this week. He played in the pro-am event and shot a 40 – five-over par – for the front nine holes.

But he spent 31/2 hours on Wednesday, striking ball after ball on the driving range. On Thursday morning, he had a putting session that was so good, his confidence blossomed as play began.

Hadwin started off with birdie putts on the first and second holes, setting him up for the day.

He later survived two tough holes: double-bogeying the 11th (which he followed with two consecutive birdies) and bogeying the 17th. He was especially unhappy with his effort on No. 17.

“You never want to make bogey on a par-five, especially when there are only two of them [par-fives],” Hadwin said.

David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., finished the day two strokes behind Hadwin at 68 – as did Brad Fritsch of Ottawa.

Albin Choi of Surrey, B.C., Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., and David Markle of Shelburne, Ont., were the next group of Canadians at one-under 69.

There are 23 Canadians in the tournament field this year.

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